Henry VI, Part II

This play begins with the marriage of King Henry VI to the young Margaret of Anjou. William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, aims to influence the king through her. The major obstacle to this plan is the regent of the crown, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who is very popular with the people. Queen Margaret vies with his wife, Eleanor, for precedence at court. Eleanor is lured by an agent of Suffolk into dabbling in necromancy, and then arrested, to the embarrassment of her husband, Gloucester. Nevertheless, the demon she has summoned delivers some accurate prophecies concerning the fates of several characters in the play. Gloucester is then accused of treason and imprisoned, and afterwards assassinated by agents of Suffolk and the Queen.

Meanwhile, Richard, Duke of York, who has a tenuous claim to the throne, schemes to make himself king.

The Earl of Suffolk is banished for his role in Gloucester’s death and killed by Walter the pirate, leaving Margaret without her mentor.

Meanwhile, Richard of York has managed to become commander of an army to suppress a revolt in Ireland. York enlists a former officer, Jack Cade, to lead a rebellion that threatens the whole kingdom, so that he can bring his army from Ireland into England and seize the throne.

As Cade’s rebels are routed, York, who has brought his army over on the pretext of protecting the King from Somerset, declares open war on the king, supported by his sons, Edward (the future King Edward IV) and Richard (the future King Richard II).

The English nobility now take sides, and the Battle of St Albans ensues. The Duke of Somerset is killed by the future Richard III. Young Lord Clifford, whose father has been killed by the Duke of York, vows revenge on the Yorkists, and allies himself with King Henry’s other supporters.


King Henry, the Sixth
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, his uncle
Cardinal Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, great-uncle to the king
Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York
Richard, his sons
Duke of Somerset
Duke of Suffolk
Duke of Buckingham
Lord Clifford
Young Clifford, _his son
Earl of Salisbury
Earl of Warwick
Lord Scales
Lord Say
Sir Humphrey Stafford
William Stafford, Sir Humphrey Stafford’s brother
Sir John Stanley
Matthew Goffe
A sea-captain, master, and master’s-mate
Walter Whitmore
Two gentlemen, prisoners with Suffolk
John Hume,
John Southwell, priests
Bolingbroke, a conjurer
Thomas Horner, an armourer
Peter, Thomas Horner’s man
Clerk of Chatham
Mayor of Saint Alban’s
Simpcox, an impostor
Alexander Iden, a Kentish gentleman
Jack Cade, a rebel George Bevis,
John Holland,
Dick the butcher,
Smith the weaver,
Michael, followers of Cade
Two murderers
Queen Margaret, queen to King Henry
Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester
Margaret Jourdain, a witch, wife to Simpcox

Lords, Ladies, and attendants. Petitioners, aldermen, a herald, a beadle, sheriff, and officers, citizens, ’prentices, falconers, guards, soldiers, messengers, &c.

A spirit.